Sunday, May 16, 2010

Robin Hood: Prince of Teabaggers?

As I sat through Ridley Scott's new Robin Hood movie, I thought the main problem with it was the fact that, except for the characters, it had absolutely nothing to do with the Robin Hood legend. It wasn't a bad medieval war flick, it just wasn't really a Robin Hood movie. Since bad Robin Hood movies are made with alarming frequency, I wasn't too upset. That is, until I realized on the drive home that this one actually subverts the Robin Hood legend into a sort of teabagger fairy tale.

The movie begins with King Richard the Lion-Hearted leading his men (including his trusted adviser Robert Loxley of Nottingham and the archer Robin Longstride) back from the Crusades, sacking castles in France along the way. Richard has his flaws, but is basically a good guy: the kind of king you'd want to have a beer with. When Longstride questions the rightness of Richard's adventurism in the Middle East, he and his men are rightly detained as enemy combatants. They are willing to accept their punishment until King Richard is killed in battle, at which point they escape (presumably due to some sort of Promise Keeper-style vow).

As Robin and his men try to beat all the other soldiers to the coast so they can get a cheap ride home before boat prices explode (as dictated by the invisible hand of the free market), they discover that Loxley and his men, who were returning the crown, have been ambushed. The dying Loxley asks Robin to return his sword to his father, who he didn't part on good terms with. Then, in the creepiest Horatio Alger story ever, the merry men loot the bodies and become nobles, proving that everyone can become members of the privileged class if they're clever and hard-working enough.

Posing as Loxley, Robin returns the crown to the royal family and Barack Obama--I mean Prince John--is crowned king. John states that "Loxley" deserves to be rewarded for returning the crown, but then suddenly remembers that Loxley's father hasn't paid his taxes, and keeps the reward as an initial payment to help fill the coffers of Big Government. Just like a Democrat.

From London, Robin goes to Nottingham to return the sword. Upon arriving, he meets Maid Marion, Loxley's widow, who has been forced to do much of the work of running the manor herself due to downsizing resulting from harsh taxes. Fortunately she, like most wealthy land-owners, is up to the task of harsh manual labor. Robin also meets Loxley's father, Sir Walter, who has a proposition for him. With Robert dead, Loxley's lands will go to the Crown when Sir Walter dies, leaving Marion a pauper. If Robin will pose as Marion's husband, she'll be able to avoid this inheritance tax. Sir Walter also intimates that he knows a secret about Robin's background.

Robin agrees to become Loxley, and as he's getting "re-acquainted" with his lands, he discovers that all the seed grain in the village is about to be sent to York as property of the church, meaning no crops and more starvation. Upon learning from this, Robin and his men engage in the only instance of robbery (other than the previous corpse-looting) in the whole movie: stealing the grain. Do they, as the legends say, give it to the poor? Of course not, in part because the poor are merely background scenery in this film--the focus is the down-trodden, overtaxed corporations--I mean nobles. Besides, the poor would just spend it on crack. Instead, they use the seed to sow Loxley's fields, because that's how trickle-down economics works.

While all this is going on, Sir John's Treasury Secretary Godfrey (who happens to be half-English and half-French, and therefore probably isn't even a native-born Englishman) is fomenting revolution by brutally enforcing John's tax law. Of course, since he's not even really a real American--I mean, Englishman, he's got a secret agenda: by turning the nobles against the King, he'll make it easier for his French allies to invade England.

The nobles, unaware of the French plot, rightly protest the egregious taxation and, with heavy hearts but realizing that the tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots, plan to rise up against the King. It is important to note here that the corporations--I mean nobles--are not part of the government and only have the best interest of the common people at heart. If the wealthy--I mean nobles weren't taxed so heavily, everyone would be better off (the magical unicorn hoof of the free market again).

Meanwhile, Robin Hood discovers that his father was Joe the Plumber (only his name wasn't Joe and he was actually a stonemason), who invented the Magna Carta. When Robin suggests constitutional monarchy and liberty to King John, John rightly assumes that Robin is suggesting a welfare state where all men live in castles. Robin quickly points out that every Englishman's home is his castle, and that those who have not pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps to become wealthy (hereditary) land-owners will be perfectly happy with whatever hovel they end up in, as long as they don't have to pay taxes.

John agrees and we get to see the invasion of Normandy--I mean Dover. After the British win the day and the French, as usual, run away, King John (being a traitorous public servant) goes back on his word, refuses to sign the Magna Carta and (FUCKING FINALLY) declares Robin an outlaw. Robin joins the Michigan Militia and in the final scene we get something that actually resembles a Robin Hood movie.

I'll give them the Boston Tea Party, since the typical public education version (if not reality) actually fits the teabagger agenda. But Robin Hood? Seriously, we can't let them have that one.


Anonymous said...

Gosh, couple this to the historical inaccuracy review I heard yesterday, and I think I can give this a miss.

Josh Burnett said...

My favorite version of Robin Hood is the BBC series where they're all druidic rebels guided by the avatar of Herne. Still... I started watching the new BBC series on Steve's recommendation, and it's not bad.

Steve Johnson said...

I just started season 2 of the new one--hopefully that will cleanse the palate a bit. Do you know which BBC version is other you mentioned (years/star/something)? I picked up one of the older ones a little while ago but haven't gotten around to watching it yet.

Unknown said...

Jeebus, is it really that shallow?

Steve Johnson said...

Indeed it is.